September 10, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Rafael and Raytheon to Produce Iron Dome Missile-Defense Systems in U.S. - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    America's Raytheon and Israel's Rafael announced in August a joint venture to produce Iron Dome air-defense systems on American soil.
    "This will be the first Iron Dome all-up-round facility outside of Israel, and it will help the U.S. Department of Defense and allies across the globe obtain the system for defense of their service members and critical infrastructure," said Raytheon's Sam Deneke.
    Iron Dome is the world's most widely used air-defense system, with more than 2,500 operational intercepts over Israeli cities since 2011 and a success rate exceeding 90%.

PLO: Most Arab States Have Stopped Paying Us (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), revealed Tuesday that most Arab countries have stopped paying their dues towards the Palestinian budget, Al-Khaleej Online reported.
    Ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Arab League countries, he called on Arab states "to carry out the resolutions of the successive meetings of the Arab League related to the financial safety network for Palestine."

Palestinian Families in West Bank Are Buying Guns - Ahmed el-Komi (Al-Monitor)
    The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights issued a warning Aug. 23 about an armament race among Palestinian families in the West Bank, provoked by "their feeling of insecurity."
    Only the Palestinian security apparatus is allowed to own arms in the West Bank, according to the Oslo Accords.
    Nevertheless, Ammar Duweik, director general of the Independent Commission, said, "Weapons are widely spreading among families in the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and under the protection of influential PA or Fatah figures."
    Since the beginning of 2020, there have been family feuds in the West Bank during which arms were widely used, resulting in deaths and injuries.

U.S. Military to Field Test Next Generation Israeli Drone Technology - Daniel Nisinman (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. Department of Defense in cooperation with the Israel Defense Ministry and Israeli company Xtend have recently launched a new pilot program to test the potential employment of Skylord drones by the U.S. military.
    Intended to be used by soldiers operating in hostile environments, the system uses augmented reality (AR).
    A human operator can scan large areas and engage targets from a safe distance using a hand-operated controller unit. In addition, the drone is equipped with counter-drone measures.

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Israel to Establish National Laboratory to Study Covid-19 and Future Viruses - Udi Etzion (Calcalist)
    Due to the urgent need for research on Covid-19, the Israeli government has decided to set up a new national laboratory for the study of viruses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
    The new lab will be built according to the strict BSL-3 standard, equipped with a special air conditioning system that operates at lower air pressure than the surrounding environment so that nothing can spread outwards.
    It will also be equipped with advanced testing and experimentation tools and scientists using it will be provided with high-level protective gear.
    Professor Re'em Sari, vice president of research and development at Hebrew University, said, "Until now, experiments could be conducted on dead virus samples, but the new lab will allow researchers to study the behavior of living virus, how to identify it and how to kill it."
    "The lab will also allow us to develop a vaccine for the virus, by examining new ideas in parallel to the work of the commercial vaccine developers."

Turkish TV Series Conquers Muslim World - Aina Khan (Guardian-UK)
    "Resurrection: Ertugrul" is a five-season Turkish TV series set in the 13th century, loosely based on the life of Ertugrul Ghazi, the father of Sultan Osman, who founded the Ottoman empire.
    Ertugrul gallantly fights an array of pugnacious Crusaders, Templars, Byzantines and Mongols. Its positive depiction of Islamic rituals often includes words of wisdom from Ibn 'Arabi of Andalucia - one of the greatest Muslim philosophers.
    Released in 2014, the TV series has been dubbed into six languages and broadcast in 72 countries, with an English subtitled version released on Netflix in 2017.
    Turkey is now second to the U.S. in worldwide TV distribution, exporting nearly 150 series to more than 100 countries.

Walmart Partners with Israeli Drone Firm for Deliveries - Sagi Cohen (Ha'aretz)
    Walmart is launching a drone delivery pilot program in partnership with Israeli drone startup Flytrex.
    It will carry out trial deliveries from Walmart branches in North Carolina to customers' yards.

Israel's Foreign Exchange Reserves Reach All-Time High - Simon Griver (Globes)
    Israel's foreign currency reserves have reached a record $161.7 billion, after increasing by $4 billion in August. Reserves have risen by 35% over the past 12 months.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Says Saudi Arabia Will Allow All Flights from Israel to Pass Through Its Airspace - Christina Zhao
    Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia "agreed to open their airspace not just to flights from Israel to the United Arab Emirates and back, but to all eastward travel" from Israel. "That will save people a lot of time. That knocks down a barrier that's been up for 72 years."  (Newsweek)
  • U.S. Targets Hizbullah's Enablers in Lebanon
    The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday sanctioned former Lebanese government ministers Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil, who provided material support to Hizbullah and engaged in corruption. Finyanus, a former Minister of Transportation and Public Works (2016-2020), helped Hizbullah siphon funds from government budgets to ensure that Hizbullah-owned companies won bids for Lebanese government contracts worth millions of dollars.
        In 2015, Hizbullah gave Finyanus hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for political favors. Finyanus also helped Hizbullah gain access to sensitive legal documents related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that investigated the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
        Ali Hassan Khalil, a former Minister of Finance (2014-2020), worked to move money from government ministries to Hizbullah-associated institutions in a manner that would avoid U.S. sanctions enforcement. He also refused to sign checks to government suppliers in an effort to solicit kickbacks to be paid to him directly. (U.S. Treasury Department)
  • EU Warns Serbia, Kosovo over Israel Embassy Move - Lorne Cook
    The European Union warned Serbia and Kosovo on Monday that they could undermine their EU membership hopes by moving their Israeli embassies to Jerusalem. "There is no EU member state with an embassy in Jerusalem," European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said. "Any diplomatic steps that could call into question the EU's common position on Jerusalem are a matter of serious concern and regret."  (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Arab League Rejects Palestinian Resolution to Condemn Israel-UAE Deal - Jack Khoury
    At a video conference of Arab foreign ministers on Wednesday, the Arab League failed to condemn last month's normalization deal between Israel and the UAE. The meeting even rejected a Palestinian proposal to condemn the agreement on grounds that it is in disagreement with the Arab consensus and the Arab Peace Initiative. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki accused the U.S. of blackmail, pressure and assault against Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
  • New Coronavirus Cases Spike in Israel - Yaron Druckman
    Israel saw 3,904 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday - a record high. As of Thursday morning, there are 474 people in serious condition including 133 on a ventilator. The national death toll reached 1,054. There are currently 31,769 people battling the disease: 4,086 in Jerusalem; 1,816 in Bnei Brak; 1,306 in Ashdod; 928 in Modi'in Illit; 890 in Beit Shemesh and 844 in Tel Aviv. (Ynet News)
        See also Virus Cases Are Snowballing But Hospitalizations Aren't - Nathan Jeffay
    In September, the number of active coronavirus cases jumped from 20,699 to 31,263. But the number of hospitalized patients at any given time has only risen from 878 to 926. The number of seriously ill Covid-19 patients has increased from 438 to 478. (Times of Israel)
  • Coronavirus Spreading in the Palestinian Authority
    696 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the Palestinian Authority in the last 24 hours, Palestinian Minister of Health Mai al-Kaileh said Wednesday. (WAFA-PA)
  • After PA Blocks Gaza Medical Transfers to Israel and West Bank, UN Enables Permits - Aaron Boxerman
    Palestinian residents of Gaza who need to travel to Israel or the West Bank for medical treatment normally turn to the PA's Health Liaison Office in Gaza, which works to coordinate the permits. In May, the PA ceased coordinating with Israel to issue permits to Gazans.
        "Following extensive advocacy and negotiations with stakeholders, WHO [the UN's World Health Organization] on Sunday, Sep. 6, initiated a temporary coordination mechanism to support Palestinian patients and companions required by Israel to apply for permits to access essential health services outside the Gaza Strip," Gerald Rockenschaub, head of the WHO mission to the Palestinians, said Monday. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Islam in the Service of Peace: Religious Aspects of the Israel-UAE Accord - Dr. Ofir Winter and Dr. Yoel Guzansky
    Over the last decade, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has striven to disseminate a religious-political doctrine that defines peace as an Islamic value. It poses this stance as an ideological alternative to the radical concepts of political Islam advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi-jihadist forces. These efforts also contribute to the UAE's international image as a stronghold of religious freedom, pluralism, and multiculturalism.
        In 2016, the UAE founded a government ministry for promoting tolerance and declared 2019 a Year of Tolerance, during which it hosted a summit between the Pope and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar University and the leading religious authority in the Sunni Muslim world. Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, chairman of the Emirates Fatwa Council, the country's supreme religious authority, noted that "the Islamic sharia abounds in many examples of such cases of reconciliations and peacemaking in accordance with the public good and circumstances." Supporters of the agreement with Israel quote the Qur'an to show Islam's preference for peace, such as, "if they are inclined to peace, make peace with them" (Qur'an 8:61).
        Jerusalem Mufti Muhammad Hussein ruled that pilgrims from the UAE would not be allowed to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque. In response, Dr. Abbas Shoman, former Secretary-General of the Egyptian al-Azhar Council of Senior Scholars, denounced the ban, stating that he knew of no precedent in Islamic law preventing people from praying at any mosque whatsoever because of the political stance of a native country. Shoman wondered why the Palestinians did not bar citizens from Turkey and Qatar from praying in al-Aqsa when their countries had conducted normal relations with Israel for many years. The writers are research fellows at INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Erdogan Presenting Himself as Leader of Muslim World - Mehul Srivastava and Laura Pitel
    At Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the faithful often hold up portraits of Turkish President Erdogan, worshipping under the gleaming gold crescent on the Dome of the Rock that was paid for by Turkey. Erdogan's popularity with Palestinians comes as their cause has slid down the list of regional concerns, sidelined by Israel's wooing of the Gulf states.
        For Israel the most troubling aspect is his embrace of Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel, the EU and the U.S. In the past decade, Turkey has funded hospitals, schools and economic projects both in Gaza, run by Hamas, and in the West Bank. Erdogan has made the Al Aqsa Mosque a centerpiece of his pledges to liberate Palestine.
        Erdogan's embrace of Hamas makes ideological sense. The Islamist militant group drew inspiration from the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. The Turkish president, whose own roots lie in Islamist politics, views the Brotherhood and its offshoots as fellow travelers. (Financial Times-UK)
  • The Arab World Begins to Realize that Israel Is Not the Enemy - David Suissa
    For more than 50 years, diplomatic geniuses kept telling the world that "the key to peace in the Middle East is to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." The convenient corollary was that the solution was in Israel's hands, which kept the Jewish state constantly on the receiving end of global condemnation. This camouflaged the plain truth that the deepest ills of the region have absolutely nothing to do with Israel or the Palestinian conflict.
        The decision of the UAE to go public with its open relationship with Israel represents a paradigm shift as the dreaded Zionist enemy was publicly legitimized and validated by a powerful Arab nation. The Zionist state is suddenly turning into a source for solutions and hope rather than hatred. How can anti-Zionist groups like the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement continue to undermine Israel if Arab countries announce that it's good for the health of their societies to do business with the Zionist state? (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
  • Israel Is a True Ally - It's Time We Remembered That - Stephen Daisley
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK "has always stood by Israel and its right to live, as any nation should be able to, in peace and security." That recognition that the Jewish state should be treated like every other does not, however, extend to a very basic courtesy: we refuse to recognize its capital and place our embassy there. In Israel, the Foreign Office maintains the fiction that Tel Aviv is the capital and hides away our embassy there.
        Israel is a steadfast ally. It furnishes us with vital intelligence. If you don't remember Hizbullah bombing London in 2015, it is because the Mossad tipped off MI5 about a terror cell in northwest London with three tons of ammonium nitrate stockpiled. This faithful friend we reward by calling it an occupier in its own capital city. (Spectator-UK)
  • A British Muslim's Journey from BDS Activist to Israel Educator - Ali Drabu
    Growing up as a British Muslim, I would regularly hear about the Palestinians and the necessity to support their struggle and I became attached to the simplified notion of Israel being all-bad. I became heavily involved in campaigning in favor of Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions of Israel (BDS) and regularly took part in demonstrations in Manchester, branding myself an "Anti-Zionist."
        A year later I had the opportunity to visit major Israeli and Palestinian cities and had the chance to meet a variety of different people. What I learned was that both Palestinians and Israelis had absolute rights to statehood, liberty and justice. Back home, what was particularly saddening was being labeled as a "traitor" whenever I attempted to offer an account of the experience of the Jewish people and the Israeli narrative. The writer is undertaking a master's degree in International Security at King's College London. (Jewish News-UK)
  • Can Israelis Tame the Chinese Lion? - Allon Sinai
    Carice Witte is the founder and executive director of the Sino-Israel Global Network and Academic Leadership (SIGNAL) think tank, specializing in Israel-China relations. "SIGNAL basically had the approach of cultivating relations and building a network of policy experts across China in influential universities and in Beijing through the establishment of Israel studies which had never existed in China. We are now in 20 universities and there are many others on the way," Witte said.
        "Then we evolved as China became more and more present in Israel mainly through investments....China has a certain way about conducting its affairs that is foreign to Israel and what happens is that you innocently and unknowingly become dependent on them." With every company in China having a position of party secretary, which is appointed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, Witte doesn't believe there are any real private companies in China.
        "China isn't really a bad actor, it isn't Iran. Its interests are really domestic....If you understand that, you can transform what is a danger into a benefit....You need to be careful now, especially with the U.S.-China divide. There needs to be some kind of oversight, in Israel, not just for national infrastructure projects, but an oversight committee that looks at what technologies are of national security importance to China."  (Calcalist)

  • Weekend Features

  • How Britain's Jewish Troops Rescued Holocaust Survivors Trying to Reach Palestine - Mark Bridge
    The People on the Beach, by Rosie Whitehouse, describes how Jewish soldiers in the British Army were instrumental in helping more than 1,000 Jews escape from postwar Europe on a ship that got through a Royal Navy blockade of Palestine. The British army's Jewish Brigade, formed in 1944, included thousands of Jewish volunteers from Palestine, mainland Europe and Britain. The unit wore a Star of David as its insignia and was stationed in northern Italy at the end of the war.
        The book, published this week, charts how brigade members crossed into Austria, Germany and eastern Europe, against orders, and took survivors in army trucks to displaced-persons camps in Italy. Their actions went directly against British policy seeking to prevent mass migration of Jews to Palestine. "They drove all the way to Lodz in Poland, turned up in the courtyard of the children's home and loaded the kids into the British army trucks to drive them over the border," said Whitehouse.
        Akiva Kohane, a survivor of Auschwitz who was 15 at the time, remembered: "I will never forget when they came in with their truck. They had a Star of David marked on the truck. I got a shock when I looked inside the driver's cabin as there were two Tommy guns with the Star of David on them."  (The Times-UK)
  • Swedish Collaboration with the Nazi War Effort - Judith Bergman
    In June, Swedish police confiscated the entire stock of the book This is a Swedish Tiger, by Swedish Jewish author and standup comedian Aron Flam. The book tells the story of how Sweden's claim of neutrality during World War II covered up a reality of Swedish collaboration with the Nazi war effort. (Gatestone Institute)
  • A Secret Diary Chronicled the "Satanic World" that Was Dachau - David Chrisinger
    Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz, who wasn't Jewish, was sent to the German concentration camp at Dachau, apparently for the crime of being a pacifist. For two years, he kept a journal that would later be used to convict those who had persecuted him and killed his fellow prisoners. His journal reflects his extraordinary powers of observation in analyzing the unique and hellish universe that was the Nazi concentration camp.
        The Dachau Trials began in November 1945. Over two years the court tried 1,200 defendants for war crimes and convicted 3/4 of them. With Edgar's diary as evidence, a number of former Dachau guards were punished for their part in a pattern of horrific crimes. (New York Times)
  • Elderly Nazis Discuss Involvement in Holocaust in New Documentary - Deborah Young
    British filmmaker Luke Holland's new documentary, "Final Account," includes interviews with German Wehrmacht soldiers, SS officers and prison camp guards who downplay Hitler's crimes of genocide. It's sobering to see how very few take responsibility for their personal role in killing their Jewish neighbors, and the hardest thing to hear are their justifications. Even former SS officers declare themselves not guilty, while proudly showing off their medals.
        All of Holland's efforts to make his subjects own up to being implicated in horrendous crimes go unheeded. Ordinary German and Austrian farm workers are made to admit that when Jewish escapees from the camp next door tried to hide on the farm, they were the ones who betrayed them. In a peaceful Austrian retirement home, elderly women recall the smell of the crematorium and burning flesh. (Hollywood Reporter)

The U.S. Cyber Command's Online Fight Against the Islamic State - Brig.-Gen. Len Anderson, Lt.-Col. Nathan Fleischaker, and Col. Brian Russell (War on the Rocks)
  • Key Islamic State propagandists removed from the battlefield via missile strike, critical documents and files missing from jihadist web servers, and Islamic State leaders and adherents fighting with each other over issues of orthodoxy: These are just several of the tangible results from U.S. Cyber Command's operations in its highly classified fight against the Islamic State.
  • Shifting from exclusively planning for major combat operations with adversaries to competing with them before conventional combat arises - and working in concert with a network of domestic and foreign partners - are precisely what is necessary as the U.S. moves toward finding solutions.
  • We served with Joint Task Force ARES, a Marine-led joint unit under U.S. Cyber Command, as it learned how to persistently engage the Islamic State's propaganda machine and its fielded forces. This requires a force that can operate in both combat and gray zones, seeking to achieve political and strategic objectives.
  • When U.S. Cyber Command created the task force in 2016, the Islamic State was winning the information battle in blitzkrieg fashion with cell phones and Internet access: demoralizing Iraqi troops, recruiting adherents from afar, and inspiring global jihad.
  • "Glowing Symphony" was a months-long campaign to fight the Islamic State's global information system. The relentless, combined application of physical and informational power reduced the quantity and quality of Islamic State media.
  • Elements of the Islamic State's propaganda machine spanned the globe. The group's physical defeat was accelerated because the joint task force either helped remove resources that sustained Islamic State combat forces or identified connections between those forces and their supporters that could be used to create internal strife in the organization.
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